In a discussion group, a writer asks a follow-up question regarding my proposition that our ideas of trying to raise children by grace is bogus.
Here we are surrounded by rules that keep our world organized, and as we understand that we are no longer under law we assume that the world around us is somehow going to automatically be able to function without these rules.
There was a situation where Peter was approached by the tax collectors of a particular city with a loaded question: "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" Peter says, "Yes". I have a feeling that Jesus was not with Peter at the time but maybe had merely seen the officials approach Peter. I'll bet on the inside he was scared silly with the thought of presenting this news to Jesus. But Peter didn't even get the chance to say anything about it for as he entered the house Jesus asked him a question:
"What do you think Simon? From WHOM do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their SONS - or from STRANGERS? And upon his saying, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Consequently the sons are exempt. But, lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater Take that and give it to them for you and me." Matthew 17:25-27
BTW, my side notes say this is a coin worth double the amount they were asking.
Consequently, the SONS are exempt.
What is the moral of the story? Geez, the way it has come down the pike from all our religious teachings is that IF we're REALLY spiritual and IF we will REALLY, REALLY trust the Lord for our finances then we will be led from one fish to another! And this is nothing more than a superstitious approach to living by the Spirit and has nothing to do with what it REALLY means to live by the Spirit. This is not to say that God doesn't or hasn't miraculously provided financial or physical support in such an otherwise unexplained manner, but He does not do so in order to have us follow the signs.
The real question as to what this means is to ask what it meant to PETER. A fish was not something out of the ordinary to him, like a hobby or a sport or a special occasion, for he had made his living as a fisherman. To find a coin in the fish's mouth was not finding God's provision in the out-of-the-ordinary but in the hum-drum everyday occupation he had known his whole life. Consider all the other miracles involving fish, and then remember how easily they seemed to forget about the real importance of the miraculous.
'Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves (there had been bread and fish) of the five thousand, and how many large baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning BREAD? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the TEACHING of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:9-12
If the lesson to be learned was about BREAD or FISH or COINS in fish's mouths, then the disciples NEVER figured it out, otherwise, they would not have lived in such poverty nor suffered such obvious lack of faith in this whole arena.
Ok, now, consider. What would have Peter LATER remembered from this fish story as the Spirit of God gave him remembrance of everything Jesus told him? How about: And then he remembered that Jesus did not bring this miracle about to teach him how to pay all his expenses and dues in life, but that he understood that as a son he was exempt from the dues of the world.
The rules of the world are lines by which the world operates. Every time we come in contact with these rules we are given real live reasons to remind us that AS SONS we are exempt from the necessity of being governed by the imposition of the external. This is why Paul reminded Timothy of the lawful use of the law. It's NOT for the righteous but for the offenders! Like it or not, our children were born as offenders ... and the life of the offender relates to the operation of the same kind of principles that makes the world go around. We really screw up with raising our kids when we RIGHTLY set rules for them to live by, but then act as if we can't understand WHY they break them. THIS is where we teach them that there is no other option but to keep on living by that external attempt to control their disobedience!!
What else do we think we teach our children when we say such things as, WHY do you keep doing bad things?, WHY won't you obey me?, WHY aren't you listening to the teacher?, WHY are you breaking the rules?, WHY are you not grateful?, WHY can't I get through to you?, WHY do you keep disappointing me?, WHY do you keep on rebelling against me?, WHY can't you make me proud?, etc.
Parents, husbands, wives: know who your source of life is! Let's stop pretending that the flesh can EVER do, or be righteous! Let's stop bucking the system merely for the purpose of our RIGHTS as if the world will really understand that we have been set free, for all we do by this is to suggest that we are better than they!! Let's not spend our time and energies trying to convince EVERYBODY ELSE that we have been set free, but instead to hear FOR OURSELVES through Christ's declaration that we really ARE free!! Let's not take the message of condemnation to the world around us, but to be always ready to tell others of our TRUE HOPE. Let us stop pretending to our children that we have it all together, and that we expect them to achieve this ridiculous level of performance that WE pretend to have!! Let us be honest with our children when they confide in us that they CANNOT live by these rules!! Listen for the LIFE within every situation in the hum-drum of our everyday existence. Be prepared always with THIS grace of the true life we have in Christ so that we will KNOW how to answer every person!!!!